The 45th district, centered on Little Saigon in Orange County, is one of the most hotly contested races this cycle. Democrats see California as a golden opportunity to flip seats and regain the majority. Steel is one of five Republican incumbents representing districts where voters chose Biden over Trump.
Democrats are privately worried about their party’s options. Kim Bernice Nguyen, a member of the Garden Grove City Council, took on top endorsers like Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.). But he only raised $150,000 in five months and ended June with an estimated $55,000.
Also among the Democratic hopefuls are Cheyenne Hunt, a Gen Z TikTok influencer who outraised Nguyen, and Aditya Pai, a lawyer who made headlines this summer for a surprising message on supporters dropping out of the race, only to admit it was a mistake and continue his campaign. .
Tran is a first-time candidate, but he says his background as the son of refugees from Vietnam and an Army veteran makes him a strong fit for the district, which has a large population. in Vietnam.
“My family’s story, my upbringing – that really changed voters,” Tran said in an interview, noting that he speaks Vietnamese, like most voters.
Republicans, meanwhile, are eager to emphasize Tran’s resume as a personal injury attorney.
“Ambulance-chasing attorney Derek Tran just crashed the Democratic primary clown car in the 45th district,” said Ben Petersen, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee. “With extreme liberal Derek Tran joining this crowded field of flawed candidates, get ready for a Democrat fight that turns into a dangerous high-speed left-to-left race. “